COORDINATION 1: A ONE-STOP COLLABORATIVE HUB
“We need a clear chain of communication with what’s going on locally, regionally and nationally”
“We need a new model for collaboration in this region, which is not just focused on geography but also on the digital aspirations and projects we want to accommodate, so we recognise the need for a physical, central hub.”\
“We can look at co-working spaces and co-locating some of the space requirements, including facilities that are not currently in the region in audio and post-production, VFX etc.”
“We need defined groups, which can act as facilitators. We need to be able to quickly draw on support for projects and spaces.”
“We need to share funding knowledge, knowing what is available, what the rules are and what the returns on investment might be.
“We need a monthly update on what funding is available with possible a coordinator role, financed by a ‘finders’ fee’ deal.”
“Our independent companies need to be briefed about what commissioners and sales agents are looking for and that we know how to pitch them.”
“We need workshops, perhaps in an incubator type fashion, where younger independent companies are shown how to become more marketable and how to structure finance.”
“We need regional incentives and funding.”
Any ambitious strategy needs to have a focal point, where emerging talent can find the data and knowledge they need. Ad hoccoordination is a serious weakness, raising hopes before crashing.
There is also a need for a one-stop collaborative hub to access information about commissions, prizes and awards, public sector funding schemes.
It would also be the point of call for national organisations to explain and help implement national policies. That will include organisation of events.
There is currently no central resource, which will offer a clear lead in terms of.
· Available funding
· Coordinating events
· Analysing and sharing advice and findings from pathway workshops
· Best-practice guides
· Potential partnerships
· A communication hub around apprenticeships
· Link to national organisations
· Link to international bodies
· West Midlands branding
The hub role might prove particularly important in linking up activities across the sector, and particularly ensuring that strategies for grassroot development plug into those at a higher level, around big investments in studio space.
It would also help ensure to promote the work of organisations and to ensure that enquiries lead to connections to the relevant organisations, such as an expanded Film Birmingham.
The hub might run and coordinate workshopswith local and national partners. It is essential that the West Midlands understands the value and direction of national and international organisations, which are often deeply engaged with issues that affect local activity.
The hub outlined should not be a funder of workshops. It should be a neutral organisation offering impartial advice and becoming a repository for shared data and a knowledge base. The workshops being coordinated could be provided by a range of organisations with specialist skills. In some cases, users will have a choice of service providers.
What matters is that there is a shared approach to development, so that business can access known needs (see Gap Analysis) with pathways beyond individual training schemes.
New needs are emerging that need to be addressed. There was a clear call, for example, for access to expertise in bid writing for grants and public funding awards. At the emerging and developing end of the pyramid, there is clearly ignorance about where funding might be found and what kinds of investment might be available. That means public funds and private venture capital.
All the desire for pathways and coordination still rely on funding and fund and award tenderingis clearly a sectorial weakness that will need to be addressed through a number of means, including network mapping as wellbeing a core function of the one-stop hub.
Most funding for innovation, project support and public-funded business development work comes with a strict set of rules and a tough application environment. The West Midlands needs to identify where there is actual access to funds. And there needs to be a coordinated and collective approach to accessing those funds.
A strong regional response to competitions and awards, coordinated along collective lines is essential to growing the confidence of the sector and the sense of a new direction.
Other areas of concentration for a hub, mentioned at the lab, were:
>> Pitching skills: The need to improve the level of pitching was a widely cited as a weakness, resulting in part to the lack of funding opportunities in the region. There was a feeling, however, that it represented an opportunity. A collective approach to developing pitching, using cross-media skills and a programme of workshops could make a big difference. Making the West Midlands a beacon for world-class pitching of projects could represent an opportunity
>> Market and festival preparation: Specialist advice in negotiating markets and commissioning, both in the UK and beyond were widely seen as essential. That advice can be honed and kept up-to-date and shared. Strong market knowledge can be tied into other business training and help make the West Midlands a centre of excellence for securing funding and informed and dynamic presentations around the world. An immediate calls was for a workshop with the West Midlands Production Fund, run by Creative England, helping producers match their work to its criteria.
>> International centre:One area of potential growth that could help drive the development of a distinct identity for the region is a more international outlook.Film Birminghamalready plays an important part in trying to develop international reach and the value of its work was widely understood and Film Birmingham expansionacross the region seen as a valuable resource.But concerns were raised that inward investment from international shoots, such as Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player Onein 2018, did not yield any long-term knock-on benefits for the region.
Areas, such as international co-production, global IP sales rights, approaches to VOD streaming deals, etc, were seen as needing specialist international workshops.